Indiana proves it has a defense

MICHAEL MAROT AP Sports Writer Published:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- No. 1 Indiana had something to prove Tuesday night -- that it could play defense.

Just two days after the Hoosiers put together their best game this season, they delivered an even more impressive performance, getting 20 points from Cody Zeller and 19 each from Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo, running away from No. 14 North Carolina 83-59 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

"Our guys played great basketball tonight," coach Tom Crean said. "We played against an incredible opponent, everybody understands how great North Carolina is. Our guys had an edge to them tonight, and it was on the defensive end as much as anything else."

The conventional wisdom is that the Hoosiers (7-0) are one of the nation's top scoring teams.

But the detractors have questioned Indiana's willingness to defend and some have even suggested that weakness has allowed No. 2 Duke to close the gap on the nation's top-ranked team.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams disagrees.

"I think they are," he said when asked whether Indiana deserved to be No. 1. "The thing I like about them is they really are a team. They don't have one guy that beats you up, they beat you so many different ways."

Williams and the Tar Heels (5-2) learned that lesson the hard way in Bloomington.

In the second half, the Tar Heels shot just 27.8 percent from the field and went 0 for 5 from 3-point range. They were outscored 12-8 on the fast break, an area that had caused so much concern for Crean that he lost sleep leading up to the game.

"I know people criticize us for our defense, and they say 'If they can't play defense, how good can they really be?'" Oladipo said.

Offensively, the Hoosiers were their usual balanced selves.

Zeller was 8 of 13 from the field with four blocks, one steal and an assist. Oladipo and Sheehey were both 8 of 12 from the field. Senior guard Jordan Hulls was 5 of 8, including three 3-pointers, and finished with 13 points, eight assists and two steals.

"It's cool," Oladipo said when asked about beating a program like North Carolina this handily. "I mean, we've been working really hard and you guys know as well as I know that this program, well not last year, but over the last couple of years was really struggling and we wanted to get it back to where it belongs, which is on top. So to get a win like that, it's a humbling experience."

The best thing about this game for North Carolina may be the end of its run against teams from the Hoosier State.

A week ago, North Carolina trailed by 29 points in the second half before falling 82-71 to two-time national runner-up Butler.

On Tuesday, it was almost an instant replay.

Indiana closed the first half fast, started the second half fast and spent the rest of the game pulling away. The Hoosiers' biggest lead, 83-51, came with 4:22 left in the game.

Dexter Strickland led the Tar Heels with 14 points, Marcus Paige had 11 and James Michael McAdoo had 10 points and nine rebounds for North Carolina, which was missing sophomore guard P.J. Hairston, who stayed home with a sprained left knee.

There was a bigger problem, though. North Carolina couldn't figure out how to contain Zeller, one of this season's favorites to be the national player of the year.

"Boy, I would love to watch them play if it wasn't against my team," Williams said. "You look down the lineup and Cody Zeller, he's family to begin with, he's really a load to handle, and two other guys that I didn't even hear of when they were in high school, they just kicked our rear ends."

The game pitting two of the country's most storied programs -- which have combined for 10 national titles and 3,767 wins -- had been billed as one of this season's showcase events. For 16 minutes, it lived up to the hype.

Zeller changed everything with two flurries.

By setting high picks and drawing post players outside, it opened up the lanes for his cutting and slashing teammates who wasted no time exploiting the holes in the Carolina defense, using a 15-6 run at the end of the first half to take a 46-37 halftime lead.

The Hoosiers were only getting started.

"If you let them dictate and control the pace of the game, they're going to win," Crean said. "So we had to control and dictate the pace of the game, and to do that, we had to run."

But in the second half, the Hoosiers were out to prove something else -- that they could defend.

Over the first 8 1/2 minutes, North Carolina managed only three points, the tip-in and a free throw.

Zeller and Oladipo, meanwhile, combined for seven points in the opening 13-0 blitz that put Indiana ahead 59-37, and North Carolina never challenged again as the Hoosiers won their 34th consecutive home game in November against a team that was supposed to cause havoc.

"It's a huge statement," Sheehey said. "We prepared for this game for a couple of weeks now and that's about it. You saw the score. We played hard, we played well, we played together and when we do that, stuff is going to happen."

TOP 25

NO. 3 MICHIGAN 79, NO. 18 NORTH CAROLINA ST. 72

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Trey Burke had 18 points and a career-high 11 assists without a turnover to lead Michigan.

Freshman Nik Stauskas led the Wolverines (6-0) with 20 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 16.

T.J. Warren had 18 points N.C. State (4-2), which trailed 73-58 before going on a 10-0 run.

Michigan committed only six turnovers -- four in the first half. N.C. State shot 57 percent from the field but lost its fifth straight game in the ACC-Big Ten challenge.

Michigan has committed 10 or fewer turnovers in five of its six games this season.

No. 21 MINNESOTA 77, FLORIDA ST. 68

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Joe Coleman scored 16 points and Rodney Williams added 14 for Minnesota which beat defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Coleman made 8 of 13 field goals and had 12 points in the second half while helping the Gophers build a 58-37 lead.

Austin Hollins added 13 points and Andre Hollins had 12 for the Gophers, who never trailed. Elliott Eliason had 10 rebounds.

Minnesota (7-1) led 38-25 at halftime and by as many as 21 points in the second half. The Gophers' lone loss was to No. 2 Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Reserve Terrance Shannon led Florida State (4-2) with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Snaer finished with 12 points and Terry Whisnant and Okaro White both had 10 for the Seminoles.

No. 19 COLORADO 85, TEXAS SOUTHERN 80

BOULDER, Colo. -- Josh Scott scored the first two baskets of the second overtime for Colorado, which fought back from an early 15-point deficit.

The Buffaloes (6-0) withstood a 39-point performance by Omar Strong, who made nine 3-pointers, including three in the extra sessions.

Spencer Dinwidde had 24 points to lead Colorado, which is off to its best start since opening 6-0 in 1989-90. Scott finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, Askia Booker added 15 points and Andre Roberson had 11.

Fred Sturdivant had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Texas Southern (1-6).

BIG TEN

VIRGINIA TECH 95, IOWA 79

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Erick Green scored 24 points and Robert Brown had 18 Tuesday night, leading Virginia Tech to a 95-79 victory against Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

The Hokies (6-0) broke away with a 19-1 run spanning the halves, then withstood a run that pulled the Hawkeyes to within 57-54 with 12 minutes left. Virginia Tech then went on a 12-4 burst to rebuild the margin. The victory, under first-year coach James Johnson, gave the Hokies their first 6-0 start since 1982-83.

Aaron White had 21 points to lead the Hawkeyes (5-2) and Roy Devyn Marble added 18.

Virginia Tech tried to take command to start the second half as Green scored the first nine points, extending the Hokies' lead to 55-38 -- their largest to that point in what had been a very close game.

MARYLAND 77, NORTHWESTERN 57

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Dez Wells set a career high with 23 points as Maryland blew out Northwestern in the second half en route to a 77-57 win on Tuesday night.

A week after Maryland announced it would leave the ACC and join the Big Ten in 2014, the Terrapins and Wildcats faced off in a preview of future conference foes and one of 12 contests in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Maryland (5-1) led 28-26 at halftime but broke the game open in the second half, scoring on its first 10 possessions. The run stretched the lead to 47-34.

Wells finished the spurt by hitting a 3-pointer and going coast-to-coast for a layup after a Northwestern turnover.

Wells hurt the Wildcats (6-1) from all spots on the floor, slashing to the basket and stepping back to hit jumpers. He was 9 for 11 from the field with three assists.

NEBRASKA 79, WAKE FOREST 63

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Ray Gallegos scored 17 of his career-high 20 points after halftime to help Nebraska beat Wake Forest 79-63 on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Andre Almeida matched his career-high with 20 points to go with a career-best 11 rebounds for the Cornhuskers (5-1), who blew open a close game after halftime. Gallegos went just 1 for 5 in the first half but hit seven straight shots after the break, helping Nebraska blow the game open and turn it into an ugly night for the Demon Deacons (3-3).

After leading just 28-24 at the break, the Huskers scored on 16 of 19 possessions to start the second half and build a 22-point lead with 8:05 left. Gallegos had 12 points during the 20-3 run that turned it into a romp, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Freshman Madison Jones scored 14 to lead Wake Forest.

MAC

BOWLING GREEN 70, DETROIT 65

BOWLING GREEN -- Jordon Crawford knocked down a career-high five 3-pointers en route to a career-best 26 points as Bowling Green held off Detroit 70-65 Tuesday night.

Crawford, who stands at just 5-foot-6, made 9 of 16 shots and entered the game as the sixth highest scorer (16.2 points) in the Mid-American Conference.

Bowling Green (3-3) held a commanding 33-19 lead with four minutes left in the first half but Detroit used an 11-1 run to close the gap to 34-30 at halftime. The Falcons have not trailed at halftime all season.

Detroit (2-3) cut the deficit to 61-59 behind a Ray McCallum layup at the 4:25 mark and trailed 63-61 with 1:39 left in the game. The Titans would get no closer, however, as Bowling Green hit seven free throws over the final minute to put the game away.

McCallum led Detroit with 25 points and seven rebounds.

ILLINOIS-CHICAGO 58, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 46

DeKALB, Ill. -- Hayden Humes scored 18 points and Daniel Barnes added 11 points and eight rebounds to lead Illinois-Chicago to a 58-46 victory against Northern Illinois 58-46 on Tuesday night.

Gary Talton and Josh Crittle had 10 points each for the Flames (5-1), who have won five of the last six games between the teams.

Sam Mader scored 15 points for the Huskies (1-4), who shot just 32.7 percent (16 of 49) from the floor.

Northern Illinois trailed 27-19 at the break but cut the deficit to five points midway through the second half. But Humes scored five points and Talton four during a 10-2 run that gave Illinois-Chicago a 48-35 cushion with 6:52 remaining, and the Huskies got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Humes shot 7 of 8 from the field, with two 3-pointers.

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